As a homeschooler, you may not need the latest fall fashions or brand name backpack, but you’ll definitely want to make sure you have everything in order to avoid any unanticipated pitfalls.
Follow the easy steps provided below, and you can confidently begin your online school journey.
If at any point along the way, you want to learn more about these skills, check out our Online Learning Orientation Tool, which will walk you through the process of preparing for an online course.
For more information, check out the free guides to online learning for parents and students created by researchers at the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute.
Step 1: Have all the supplies you need
Yes, it really is that easy if the online course you selected provides this information as part of its welcome process.
With technology changing so quickly, it’s important to double-check the computer requirements since it’s your main connection for eLearning.
The type of computer – PC or Apple – often depends on your area of study.
While both can do similar things, PCs and tablets are most often preferred by those who don’t need the Mac attachments for design and art.
Most important is that your computer is reliable, fits your personal needs, and has the basics you’ll need (e.g., monitor, keyboard, mouse, updated operating system, and adequate RAM).
Today’s online courses typically require a high-speed internet connection. Some rural areas may have difficulty acquiring this service.
So, it’s important to make sure your home or local library has internet that’s available and reliable.
In addition, you may need some other equipment to enhance your learning experience. Possible items include a webcam, noise-canceling headphones, a microphone, and speakers.
What software will you need?
Again, online course requirements may vary depending on the program and subject matter.
Basic software, such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader, and security, are often a good place to start in addition to any specialized software you may need for your online course.
Other low-tech items you will want to have in hand are pens, pencils, paper, and even an old school personal planner to keep you on track with coursework, deadlines, and tests.
Step 2: Create a space that’s good for learning
So, this step is as unique as you are.
Do you enjoy being in the center of activity and are you able to block out background noise?
Or, do you prefer absolute quiet, soft music, and comfy chairs for studying?
By taking a really good look at yourself and how you learn best, you can make your online school space exactly as you like it.
A couple of things to keep in mind as you create your work area:
- Make sure it’s a personal space that matches your study habits.
- While “homeschool” may include the word “home,” you may want to consider a library, coffee shop, or a public building as your perfect learning space.
- Make sure that there is at least one place that you can always count on for optimal learning and completing course work.
Step 3: Know where to find help
Your tech is ready and your personalized space is enticing you to learn.
Now, you just need to make sure you have the resources at your fingertips should a problem arise.
Online programs, such as Michigan Virtual, provide several ways to contact them for help. They include:
- Course instructor, who may teach the virtual course, is a great resource to help support you and provide feedback as you navigate the course.
- Mentor, who for homeschoolers is often your parent or guardian.
- Help Desk, that you can contact either through email or by phone for issues that your parent or instructor cannot resolve.
- Parent, who may have access to your course and can check-in to see if you’re keeping up.
- Peers, who are familiar with eLearning, can encourage you and help in troubleshooting. Others in your online course also can tell you about course features and assignments.
As you can see, there are many who are available to assist when you may need it.
Knowing that you have supports in place gives you the confidence to achieve great results in your online classes.
Step 4: Take a big, deep breath
You’ve got this! Not only should you enjoy online learning but know that you are embarking on a path that will lead you well through life.
Computer skills, coupled with self-motivation and time management, are secondary experiences gained through your coursework.
These capabilities better prepare eLearners for college coursework as compared to traditional classroom learners.
Now, that’s something to smile about.
Online courses from Michigan Virtual enhances learning opportunities for homeschool students. Check out our 200+ eClasses available to middle and high school students.
eLearners.com. 10 Ways to Prepare for Your First Online Course.
Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute. (2017). Student Guide to Online Learning.
Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute. (2017). Parent Guide to Online Learning.
Northeastern University. (2019). 8 Strategies for Getting the Most Out of an Online Class.
Tomar, D. A. 15 Essential Tools for Online College. TheBestSchools.org.